Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer camp in a San Francisco culinary school - Holy trinity

Chinese cuisine: scallions, ginger and garlic.

French cuisine: a mirepoix of celery, onion and carrots.

Greek cuisine: lemon juice, olive oil and oregano.

Indian cuisine: Garlic, ginger and onion.

Italian cuisine: soffritto, or a base of sauteed carrots, onion and celery, essentially the same ingredients as that of mirepoix.

Japanese cuisine: Dashi, mirin and shoyu.

Korean cuisine: Doenjang (fermented soybean paste), gochujang (hot pepper paste), and ganjang (soy sauce).

Mexican cuisine: The combination of three types of dried chili peppers — ancho, pasilla, and guajillo.

Spanish cuisine: Sofrito, a sauteed base of garlic, onion and tomato cooked in olive oil.

Thai cuisine: galangal (Thai ginger), kaffir lime (leaves and rind) and lemon grass

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pastor complains to Ah Fook about the new restrictions on using commercial premises

(Picture in courtesy of Pet Society)

When Ah Fook met up with the Pastor, he was in a foul and shocked mood.

PASTOR: Ah Fook, this is not fair man! This is not fair!

AH FOOK: Father, what is not fair?

PASTOR: The new guidelines on use of commercial properties for religious activities! It's obviously prejudiced against us!

AH FOOK: What happened? What is the new guidelines saying? You can't host services in commercial spaces anymore?

PASTOR: No, they don't dare! But it isn't any better. The new guidelines say that we cannot use more than 20 per cent of a commercial space total gross floor area for religious use, and we also can't use the space for more than two days a week, including Saturday and Sunday! This is so restrictive! And you know what? We still have to take care not to cause disturbances like noise, traffic or parking problems!

AH FOOK: Wow! Which means your guys can't illegal park at the road side to block everybody's way anymore?

PASTOR: And Ah Fook! These guidelines have to come out after we've forked out millions to buy over a giant shopping complex!

AH FOOK: Oh yah! That must really affect your plans!

PASTOR: Definitely! I've wanted to transform all shops in the complex to sell Christian books and accessories! The cinemas to only screen Christian productions! In 3D! For the huge convention halls, I've wanted to replace all those over-abundant computer shows with talks conducted by our religious leaders, replace the book fairs with Christian book fairs! In fact, I was so happy that Carrefour is getting out of the complex because I thought I could use that space for more religious activities to save more souls! Oh, and I was so planning to take away that sinful fountain!

AH FOOK: That iconic fountain? Why is it sinful? Looks nice what...

PASTOR: Ah Fook, the people believes that the fountain's Feng Shui will give them wealth. This is against our teachings. Feng Shui is superstitious and sinful.

AH FOOK: Oh... then I can't go there to touch the water before I go buy Toto anymore...

PASTOR: Ah Fook, personally I'm a little bit confounded as to the real reason behind this because I found that we have always been living within guidelines. Besides the usual insults and jokes we talked about other religions during services and on Youtube, we actually respect the other religions. But I guess we're sabotaged this time. Some people must have complained about us and thus the new guidelines.

AH FOOK: Hmm... I think this is unavoidable lah... You guys so high profile, like getting more and more rich and powerful like that, other people sure will be unhappy one.

PASTOR: But Ah Fook, this is not going to stop us and our faith! We've always found our own solution; in other words we go and make commercial arrangements and this means we actually pay much more than what we would if we expect someone or the government to make provision for us. Don't worry, all we've got is money!

What's happening: New guidelines on use of commercial properties for religious activities

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to make a 3-in-1 TVC out of A Girl's Hope

A Girl's Hope - Family TVC by MCYS

So now we know. Besides all the shelves of 3-in-1 coffee/tea/Milo you find in the supermarkets, we have also got 3-in-1 TVC now.

This is when you try to tell people family is important, so please send your own daughter to school and sack your maid; YOG is coming soon, so please go support and buy tickets; and this year NDP theme is "Live Our Dreams", all in the same TVC, all in 1:52 minutes.

Never mind in the end the message of "Family" is more lost than Lost.

Never mind the mention of "YOG" is more abrupt than Jack Neo apologising about his private affair in someone else's concert.

Never mind the story twist from "Hope" to "Live Our Dreams" is more twisted than the storyline in Desperate Housewives.

Actually since they were at it, maybe they should also have added the following scenes...

  • Mother and daughter take a longer walk to the bus-stop, to pass by some workers working on the drainage.

    Daughter: Mummy, what is that smell and noise?
    Mother: They're working on the drains, darling.
    Daughter: Why do they work on the drains?
    Mother: So that Singapore will not be flooded again when it rains.

  • Mother and daughter board the bus and mother taps her ezlink card on the reader.

    Daughter: Mummy, why do we change so many different buses?
    Mother: Because we're now using distance-based fare, darling.
    Daughter: Why do we do that? Is it cheaper?
    Mother: It is not cheaper, but betterer for the transport companies.

Luckily we can still be touched by the little girl.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ah Fook wonders why do police handcuff people taking picture of flood

(Picture in courtesy of Pet Society)

Ah Fook heard that his police friend has finally got the chance to use his handcuffs on someone outside his bedroom! He handcuffed a 57-year-old veteran photojournalist taking picture of the flood! How brave!

AH FOOK: Hey! I read that you handcuffed an old reporter! Tell me what happened!

POLICEMAN: Oh! That idiot! I tell you har, he damn pissed me off lor, if not I won't have used my handcuffs!

AH FOOK: What did he do? Did he really cause obstruction to the police and caused danger to himself and others, like what the police statement released?

POLICEMAN: Har? They released that? Wow... I thought that kind of statement only appears in CSI.

AH FOOK: Er... so he didn't really caused obstruction lor?

POLICEMAN: I won't really say he caused obstruction lah, I mean, the road is so wide, there wasn't really any traffic and there was just the few of us walking around... but I just don't like to see him standing there.

AH FOOK: Because he was standing on somewhere dangerous? I read he was standing over some drain or manhole, so you were actually trying to save him from causing danger himself?

POLICEMAN: Save him? Oh yes! Yes I was trying to save him! You see har, this idiot was standing in a flooded area and on the manhole! Scali he fall down how? Then we have to call the ambulance you know? It's not like we're very free lor! We really don't need that kind of extra work!

AH FOOK: But how is this man standing over a manhole causing danger to others as well?

POLICEMAN: Of course he was causing danger to others! You see, like say he falls down, then there will be some kaypoh people around who try to help him. Then scali instead of helping him, they also fall down then how? See! He was causing danger to others!

AH FOOK: That's true... but still, handcuffing him seems kinda serious leh...

POLICEMAN: Ah Fook, I tell you lah, that morning I was already damn sianz. Saturday morning leh! I was supposed to be having breakfast and sipping my kopi in the station as usual and because of that stupid rain I had to be on the road! In the rain! Already damn DL liao! So this man is really at the wrong place at the wrong time lor!

What's happening: Photographer handcuffed
摄影主任被上手铐事件:摄记3点澄清 反驳警方答复

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer camp in a San Francisco culinary school - Flour

Plain flour
Flour that does not have a leavening agent (typically baking powder) is called all-purpose or plain flour. Cookies are usually prepared using this type of flour.

Self-rising flour
Leavening agents are used with some flours to produce lighter and softer baked products by embedding small gas bubbles. Self-raising (or self-rising) flour is sold premixed with chemical leavening agents. and typically composed of the following ratio:
- 1 cup (100 g) flour
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
- a pinch to ½ teaspoon (1 g or less) salt

Wheat flour
Wheat varieties are called "clean," "white," or "brown" or "strong" if they have high gluten content, and they are called "soft" or "weak" flour if gluten content is low.

Buckwheat flour is used as an ingredient in many pancakes in the United States. In Japan, it is used to make a popular noodle called soba.

Glutinous rice flour or sticky rice flour, used in east and southeast Asian cuisines for making tangyuan, etc.

Difference Between Baking Soda & Baking Powder
Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which means they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise'. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.

When a recipe contains baking powder and baking soda, the baking powder does most of the leavening. The baking soda is added to neutralize the acids in the recipe plus to add tenderness and some leavening.

Friday, July 16, 2010

How 100,000 extra foreign workers destroyed Pharaoh Fook the Second

(Picture in courtesy of Pet Society)

Long long time ago, Ah Fook's ancestor was one of the short-lived pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Pharaoh Fook the Second had taken his crown from his father Pharaoh Fook the First, and had ruled the kingdom for a couple of years. But alas! Nobody had expected that in the year of 2010BC when ancient Egypt had a record growth year, the whole kingdom was literally wiped off from the face of earth! This was what actually happened a few months before the great disaster...

PHARAOH FOOK II: What an exceptional year, my queen! Ah! Double-digit growth this year, I see!

QUEEN CLEOPRATA II: Ah! More wigs, jewelry, and cosmetics!

PHARAOH FOOK II: Ah! Of course, my queen! But first, more bonus for my officers and generals!

QUEEN CLEOPRATA II: And how will the people benefit from the growth? Less tax?

PHARAOH FOOK II: Oh no, my queen! Did the royal physician give you some medicine so wrong? We never lower our tax! We tax more to help the poor! And for the rest of the people, we need to press them on with more restructuring and improving productivity to sustain long-term growth!

QUEEN CLEOPRATA II: Yes, my pharaoh the intelligent one! Work harder and betterer our workers will, so that we have more growth!

PHARAOH FOOK II: Ah, more foreign workers we will need. But the numbers we must also manage, so that the people complain will not! Only more than 100,000 extra foreign workers I see this year. I cannot see otherwise, and we have to accept that.

QUEEN CLEOPRATA II: 100,000 extra foreign workers, you said, my pharaoh? Do we have 100,000 jobs for them?

PHARAOH FOOK II: Yes, my queen! More pyramids we will build, more palaces we will have! More road works, more historical places to pull down for more private houses! And a temple to worship me is in the plan!

QUEEN CLEOPRATA II: But my pharaoh, will the roads not be too crowded? Public transport even more crowded? Will there be enough tables during lunch time?

PHARAOH FOOK II: More people of course more crowded. I cannot see otherwise, and we have to accept that.

QUEEN CLEOPRATA II: But my pharaoh, more jobs snatched from the locals will there be? More unhappiness will there be?

PHARAOH FOOK II: More money put into integration I foresee, a couple more millions perhaps. I cannot see otherwise, and we have to accept that.

And so Pharaoh Fook the Second proceeded to bring in 100,000 more foreign workers into the little land of ancient Egypt. The whole place became too crowded everywhere and every time. The people became too unhappy and very easily irritated by the most minor event. Crime rate went up, productivity went down. The whole country was in a mess. Then one day, without warning, the whole country collapsed and sank into the sea! Alas, the little land of ancient Egypt could not take the load of 100,000 extra foreign workers! But luckily a few managed to escape from the country before it sank, including Fook the Third. Or else there won't be Ah Fook anymore!

What's happening: 2010 will be record growth year for Singapore: PM Lee

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ah Fook visits Australian pole-dancer cum ex-stripper performing at YOG

(Picture in courtesy of Pet Society)

Ah Fook heard that a former Sydney stripper has been chosen to choreograph part of the opening ceremony for the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Apparently when the organisers said they wanted the YOG opening to be the "The Best Show on Earth in 2010", they were really serious and not drunk. Excited how the organisers have gone the extra extra miles to make sure the people have a reason to pay and watch the opening ceremony, Ah Fook paid a visit to the Australian Pole-dancer to find out more.

AH FOOK: Hey babe! Welcome to Singapore!

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: Thanks mate! I'm so thrilled to be invited! Seriously, I've never imagined I could make an international career out of exotic dance!

AH FOOK: Yah, good for you! So how's the preparation coming along?

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: Oh, twenty podiums and poles will be erected among the seating at the giant stadium, just 5m above the audience. You know, the organisers are really going lengths to make the stadium look as much like a strip club as possible, isn't it fantastic?

AH FOOK: Er... babe, I don't really care about the stadium. The most important thing is, how's the preparation of the girls? Have you found the strippers... oops, sorry, I meant dancers?

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: Ah, this is actually the difficult part. Not too many girls are doing pole dancing in Singapore so we have to start from scratch. I've got to teach the girls the very basics, and that really takes time. Teaching them how to strip would have been easier but unfortunately that is not part of the program.

AH FOOK: What? No stripping in the opening ceremony? Walauz...

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: Yah, it's a shame... But it seems pole-dancing is not really popular in Singapore yeh?

AH FOOK: Yah, but don't worry, I'm sure things will get better. After pole-dancing is performed in the previous NDP, and now in YOG, I'm sure Singapore will make a serious commitment to it and make sure pole-dancing becomes a national activity.

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: What? How do you make pole-dancing a national activity?

AH FOOK: Oh, we're good at that! We can start by replacing all the line dancing classes in CCs to pole dancing. I'm sure the aunties are sick of wearing cowboy hats and skirts by now and will wanna try something more exciting! Hey, and this will also attract more uncles too! Better for them to hang around in CCs than drinking beers at kopitiams right?

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: Aunties doing pole-dancing? Hmm... that might not be a good sight... but I do agree pole-dancing does benefit them more than the robotic line dancing. At least they'll be more flexible...

AH FOOK: And the ministers can also make use of pole-dancing to mingle with the people! Like mass pole-dancing! And knowing how we like to take things to extreme, we might be able to gather so many people that we break the world's record in the number of people in a mass pole-dance!

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: Damn, that's a good idea! Actually I too think that pole-dancing is good for Singaporeans, you know? It might help to bring up the falling birthrate of Singapore!

AH FOOK: Oh... yah hor... maybe this is the real reason why we're promoting pole-dancing?

AUSTRALIAN POLE-DANCER: Anyway, if pole-dancing gets popular in Singapore, it is really good for me and my co-workers, because we could consider migrating over!

What's happening: Pole-dancing Bobbi to open Youth Olympic Games in Singapore

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer camp in a San Francisco culinary school - Herbs

Basil - a most delicious herb, especially teamed with tomatoes. (It also grows well near tomatoes.) It lends great flavour to meaty pasta sauces, chicken and vegetable dishes and salads. It is a major ingredient in pesto.

Bay leaves - used to flavour many meat and fish dishes and are a component of the traditional French seasoning bouquet garni (along with thyme, parsley and marjoram). Dried leaves are most commonly used.

Ground roasted cumin seed - a vital ingredient in many curry powders and curry dishes. It is used in Mediterranean, Arabian, Indian and Mexican cuisine. It is especially good in beef curries and in lentil and bean dishes. The flavour also enhances vegetables such as zucchini and eggplant. It is often used to flavour pickled vegetables. The flavour is very strong, so use judiciously.

Dill leaves - particularly flavoursome in fish and potato recipes. The seeds are traditionally used with cucumbers to make dill pickles.

Fennel - traditionally used as a flavouring for fish and dried fennel stalks are sometimes used to grill fish. The leaves are used as a garnish and to flavour stuffings. The seeds are used to flavour savoury dishes and are baked into cakes and breads and added to fruit pies.

Lemon Grass - especially used in Thai food. The bottom of the leaves is thick and fleshy and adds a tangy flavour to curries and stir-fries. The new leaves can be chopped and used to flavour chicken and seafood dishes in particular, or infused as a tea.

Spearmint - a popular flavouring for sauces and dressings and mint jelly is a traditional accompaniment to lamb. Peas and potato dishes are often flavoured with mint. Native Mint can be used with the traditional foods that mint often accompanies, but it is much stronger in flavour and has a peppery taste as well. It complements lamb and veal dishes, is flavoursome addition to potato salad, can be used to make mint sauce and, used with discretion, can add unusual flavours to jellies and desserts.

Oregano - can be used in Mediterranean foods such as pizzas, lasagne, pesto and pasta. It is also excellent in salsa, eggplant dishes, vegetable strudel and herb breads.

Parsley - its appealing flavour makes it a component of both the traditional fines herbes and bouquet garni flavourings of French cooking. It is a favourite flavouring for egg dishes, vegetable dishes, pastas and soups and it is a traditional garnish.

Rosemary - has a very pungent flavour and it should be used with discretion. It is a traditional flavouring for lamb dishes, but is used with most other meats and fish as well. It is an important component in most combinations of mixed herbs and is invaluable in the stuffing for the Christmas turkey.

Saffron - has been prized since ancient times in the Mediterranean and also in India and other parts of Asia where it adds a unique flavour to cuisine, especially seafood and rice-based dishes. It is also used to colour food.

Sage - has a strong flavour and should be used judiciously. It is traditionally used in stuffings for meats, especially pork and poultry, but is also used in a range of vegetable, fish and cheese dishes. It complements onion well.

Star Anise - used in Chinese and northern Vietnamese cooking and is one of the ingredients in five-spice powder. It can be used as a substitute for anise and is frequently used to flavour liqueurs such as Pernod. It is also used to give an aniseed flavour to confectionary.

Tarragon - especially delicious in seafood dishes and is also suited for use in chicken, turkey and egg recipes. It is often used in salad dressings and sauces.

Thyme - a favourite culinary herb and is one of the ingredients in the traditional French bouquet garni along with marjoram, parsley, and bay leaf. It imparts excellent flavour to all kinds of red meat dishes, soups, sauces and vegetable dishes and is a favourite ingredient in stuffings for poultry.

Turmeric - essential ingredient in many curry seasonings. The flavour is warm and slightly bitter and it is very aromatic. Apart from curries, it is used in egg, rice and fish dishes, sauces, mustards and pickles.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ah Fook asks Man-in-Charge why is the YOG budget busted

(Picture in courtesy of Pet Society)

Just about one month before the YOG started, the committee suddenly realised money not enough and the budget has to be tripled. Ah Fook went to meet up with the Man-in-Charge to find out why were they caught off guard.

AH FOOK: Sir, what happened? How come now then you all realise that you have bite off more than you can chew?

MAN-IN-CHARGE: No, you must understand, it's not our fault. There was no precedent, no template, nothing! Maybe we were a bit naive with our initial estimates, but we're doing this for the first time!

AH FOOK: But Sir, you had two whole years to plan leh! And you only find out you don't have enough money like one month before the game starts?

MAN-IN-CHARGE: Er... hmm... erm... Well, at first we tried to plan it like a school sports day, then someone brought up that serving Milo and hanging the usual bright colour triangular flags is a bit too petty. Then we tried to plan it like a NDP, then someone brought up that YOG is more than just the opening and closing ceremony. So now we're trying to see how we can plan it like an international event. It's not easy, you know? All these meetings are very time consuming!

AH FOOK: Oh... so you guys didn't see it coming when you bid for it...

MAN-IN-CHARGE: Hey, how will we know that we need to spend so much money? Do you know that we need to give out S$260 million worth of contracts to local companies for events and exhibition services alone!

AH FOOK: Er... what events and exhibitions? I don't see anything around my neighbourhood leh!

MAN-IN-CHARGE: There are plenty! You just have to look hard enough! And we also need to contract out to transport company to provide private charter for the contestants! At first we thought we can ask them to take the world-class MRT, but it seems not practical now as the trains are always overcrowded.

AH FOOK: And to spend money to draw all the "Give Way" signs on all the roads...

MAN-IN-CHARGE: That too! Initially we wanted to put "Fine if don't give way" too, but I was told these are too many words to be put in one lane. Oh, and also we need to contract out to food company to cater food for the contestants and staff! At first we thought we can order KFC like we always do for NDP rehearsals, but then we were told too much fried chicken can be too heaty for sports athletes.

AH FOOK: Yah, I can imagine it's difficult to swallow fried chicken after exercising under our hot sun!

MAN-IN-CHARGE: Anyway, plus some spending here and there, we eventually added up to S$387 million.

AH FOOK: That's a lot of money...

MAN-IN-CHARGE: I know, but look, this is an once-in-a lifetime opportunity to raise the international profile of the country through the Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame in all five continents, and broadcasting the Games 'live' to a worldwide audience. My experts said that the value of YOG and Singapore' exposure in local and international news coverage is estimated to be in excess of S$86 million! Singapore will get famous, you know?

AH FOOK: Er... and then? So what does it mean to commoners like me?

MAN-IN-CHARGE: Hey, we need to look at the big picture! The YOG is opening up opportunities for Singapore businesses and Singaporeans, and furthermore, it is expected to attract an estimated 40,000 foreign visitors and tourism receipts of about S$57 million!

AH FOOK: You sure so many visitors will come to Singapore to look at some kids do sports? I'm not sure how many Singaporeans are watching the YOG themselves...

MAN-IN-CHARGE: Don't worry, worse case scenario, we'll spend more on advertising and promotion!

What's happening: Govt to spend S$387m on YOG, up from initial estimate of S$122m

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ah Fook finds out why all ATM machines are down islandwide

(Picture in courtesy of Pet Society)

The largest local bank in the country with the most extensive network of 81 branches and more than 900 ATMs just had a technical glitch. Ah Fook went to visit its CEO to find out what was happening.

AH FOOK: Mr CEO, what happened? Why all ATMs cannot work, internet banking cannot work, mobile banking cannot work, even NETS also cannot work using your bank's card!

LOCAL BANK CEO: Yes I know there was some problem in the morning and our IT did not know what to do when the ATMs, internet banking and mobile banking are down at the same time, because we were, frankly, a little bit caught off-guard by what happened. But after just 4 hours of down time, the system is up and running now.

AH FOOK: But why got system failure? Your IT don't do system maintenance one meh?

LOCAL BANK CEO: Of course we do! The last time the IT did a system check was in 2002 when a Chinese computer hacker broke into 21 Internet bank accounts and escaped with a S$62,000 cash haul. You need to understand that system check is not something they need to do on a very regular basis.

AH FOOK: From the hacking incident to this island-wide-everything-electronics-down incident, don't you think something is wrong with your banking system?

LOCAL BANK CEO: Ah Fook, you need to understand. It is not realistic to expect a banking system to be completely free of bugs. To do so would require huge amount of investment to upgrade our system with the latest technology which will not be 100% utilised most of the time.

AH FOOK: Erm... ok... but has the IT came back with the reason for the glitch anyway?

LOCAL BANK CEO: Not yet, but I heard it has something to do with a blue screen.

AH FOOK: Blue screen? What OS are your banking system servers using?

LOCAL BANK CEO: The latest Windows 3.1!

What's happening: DBS online banking crashes

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer camp in a San Francisco culinary school - Cheese

From the English

Hard: Cheddar cheese is a yellow to off-white, and sometimes sharp-tasting cheese originally made in the English village of Cheddar in Somerset. Cheddar, made in the classical way, tends to have a sharp, pungent flavour, often slightly earthy. Its texture is firm, with farmhouse traditional Cheddar being slightly crumble.

Semi-hard: Gloucester is a traditional, unpasteurised cheese which has been made in Gloucestershire, England, since the 16th century, at one time made only with the milk of once nearly-extinct Gloucester cattle.

From the Dutch

Mild: Edam is a Dutch cheese traditionally sold in spheres with a pale yellow interior and a coat of red paraffin wax. It is named after the town of Edam in the province of North Holland. Most "young" Edam cheese has a very mild flavor, is slightly salty or nutty, and has almost no smell when compared to other cheeses. As the cheese ages, its flavor sharpens, and it becomes firmer. It has a significantly lower fat content than many other traditional cheeses. Mild Edam goes well with fruit such as peaches, melons, apricots, and cherries. Aged Edam is often eaten with traditional "cheese fruits" like pears and apples. Like most cheeses, it is commonly eaten on crackers and bread.

Mild: Gouda is a yellow cheese made from cow's milk. The cheese is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands. Exported Gouda which has aged more has a pungent underlying bitterness, yet is still considerably creamier and sometimes discernible by a black paraffin wax coating. This strong tasting cheese is hard and often too brittle.

From the Swiss

Firm: Gruyère is a hard yellow cheese, named after the town of Gruyères in Switzerland. Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy, and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small holes and cracks which impart a slightly grainy mouthfeel. Gruyère is generally known as one of the finest cheeses for baking, having a distinctive but not overpowering taste. It is a good melting cheese, particularly suited for fondues, along with Vacherin and Emmental. It is also traditionally used in French onion soup, as well as in croque monsieur.

Firm: Emmental is a cheese originally comes from the Emme valley in the canton of Bern. Emmentaler is a yellow, medium-hard cheese. Failure to remove CO2 bubbles during production, due to inconsistent pressing, results in the large holes ("eyes") characteristic of this cheese.

From the Italian

Hard: Parmigiano-Reggiano (the same cheese manufactured elsewhere is referred to as Parmesan), is a hard granular cheese. The name Parmesan is used for cheeses imitating Parmigiano-Reggiano, with phrases such as Italian hard cheese adopted to skirt legal constraints. Uses of the cheese include being grated with a grater over pasta, stirred into soup and risotto, and eaten in chunks with balsamic vinegar. It is also a key ingredient in alfredo sauce and pesto.

From the French

Soft: Brie is a soft cows' cheese named after Brie, the French province from which it originated. It is pale in color with a slight greyish tinge under a rind of white mold; very soft and savoury with a hint of ammonia. The whitish moldy rind is typically eaten.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ah Fook thinks all these usage-based pricing are just rip offs!

(Picture in courtesy of Pet Society)

When Ah Fook arrived at his favourite cafe, he was surprised to find it not as crowded as it usually is. He was even more surprised by most of the patrons actually leaving abruptly and emptying their tables in hurry. As Ah Fook ordered his favourite coffee from the counter, he tried to find out what was going on...

AH FOOK: Hey, today like not so crowded hor?

CAFE STAFF: Yah, ever since we implemented the ETP, we don't find people hogging the tables too long anymore. See? You don't find students studying or insurance agents selling around here anymore!

AH FOOK: Yah! Now that you mentioned! But... what is this ETP?

CAFE STAFF: It stands for Electronic Table Pricing. You see those little timers on each table?

AH FOOK: Yap! They look like those timers used in chess tournaments! What are they for?

CAFE STAFF: Since July first, we're implementing time-based dining in our cafe, you know, like the distance-based bus and train fares, and the future distance-based ERP for cars? So this is how it works... the moment you sit down at your table, the timer will start counting, and you'll be charged based on how long you use the table.

AH FOOK: What?! Why must I pay for using the table? I'm already paying for the coffee leh! So it's more expensive to drink coffee at your cafe now lor!

CAFE STAFF: Hahaha... no, no, Sir, don't worry! This is not a price hike, in fact, it is a price reduction! Because of the time-based pricing, we've reduced the prices of all our beverages! See! The price of your favourite latte is already more than $1 cheaper!

AH FOOK: Oh... hmm... ok, it sounds fair then... ok, gimme one regular latte.

CAFE STAFF: Ok, that will be just $2!

AH FOOK: So... what is the rate for using the table?

CAFE STAFF: Oh, it's just 50 cents per minute!

AH FOOK: Har?! Wait! Which means if I spend just 10 minutes drinking my hot latte, I need to pay $5 on top of the $2 I've already paid?! So a cup of latte is now $7?! Oui! This is a price hike what!

What's happening: Distance-based bus, train fares from tomorrow
LTA studying alternative to ERP system